Who Is Going To Heaven, And How?

By Edwin Christiaan

This is a study of who is going to Heaven, and how it is going to take place. There is a growing trend of people who claim they are entitled to go to heaven, because they have done good lawful deeds on this earth and therefore can call themselves “a good person”. With this claim, they actually reject Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died on the cross for the sins of mankind and rose from the dead to give us life forever, because they have no need for His sacrifice. A sacrifice of grace we all needed since we are all guilty of breaking the law of the Ten Commandments, and therefore deserved to go to Hell. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, paved the way for us to Heaven. But, these people feel that, as long as they are good people, they deserve a spot in Heaven. To them, God can be anybody or anything, and there are many ways to get to Heaven. They say, “Whatever you believe is good for you.”

And who is the great liar? The one who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Such people are antichrists, for they have denied the Father and the Son. Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father either. But anyone who confesses the Son has the Father also. 1. John 2:22-23 NLT

I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:21 NLT

About the Messiah
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NLT

For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them. Acts 4:11-12 NLT

Born again
Jesus replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 NLT

Jesus replied, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. So don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8 NLT

Being born “of water” refers to water baptism, where your old life is washed away as you are being pulled under water and you are resurrected into a new life with God when you ascend from the water. Being born of “the Spirit” refers to the infilling of God’s Holy Spirit.

How to get saved
But the way of getting right with God through faith says, “You don’t need to go to heaven” (to find Christ and bring him down to help you). And it says, “You don’t need to go to the place of the dead” (to bring Christ back to life again). Salvation that comes from trusting Christ — which is the message we preach — is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, “The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.”  

For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his riches to all who ask for them. For “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:5-13 NLT

As you do this, you now enter into a personal love relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ your Savior. It is also a relationship that can be terminated if you decide to do so, as in any other relationship – like in a marriage for instance. That is why we need to work on maintaining the relationship we have with Jesus, as it says in Philippians 2:12 NKJV: “…, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

By understanding that our life with God is a love relationship, it makes no logical sense at all to believe those who teach the “once you are saved you are always saved” – philosophy. Also, Jesus says, in the following scriptures, that we have to remain in Him in order not to be thrown away in Hell:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me. 

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father. 

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love.
John 15:1-10 NLT

We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and really, that isn’t difficult. 1. John 5:2-3 NLT

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NLT

The bottom line is this: No one wants to be deceived or be lied to. Everyone is looking for genuine and truthful love relationships. We all want to be with someone we can trust to actually walk like they talk. Saying or claiming to be saved or being a Christian doesn’t say much; it’s about who you really are in your daily obedient walk with God.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 NLT

The choice of who or what you follow will determine the outcome of your eternal destiny – whether it is going to be in Heaven or Hell. Only those who genuinely love God and follow Him by doing what He says will go to Heaven. We might be able to fool people, but we cannot fool God who knows all our true motives.

Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers — none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. 1. Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV

It must be personal
The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all lay down and slept. At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!’

All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ 

But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Sir, open the door for us!’ But he called back, ‘I don’t know you!’

So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return.
Matthew 25:1-13 NLT

In this parable Jesus tells, the five foolish bridesmaids stand for those who look like real Christians, but actually are spiritually empty religious people without the oil of God’s anointing. These are people who think they have all it takes to be let into Heaven, but they actually don’t have a personal love relationship with God. A personal relationship with God cannot be bought or borrowed from someone else. Everybody must have their own oil and be ready for Jesus’ return. They feel confident with what they have, because they don’t think they have to prepare themselves. In reality, they don’t know God! That’s why God could not recognize them in the end as His true Bride.

Turning away from God
Now, let’s see what the Word says about those who once had a relationship with God, but then, at one point, “divorced” Him. Or in other words, turned away from Him for whatever reason and now want nothing to do with Him. They live in a so-called “backslidden” condition. These verses will also illustrate the faulty “once saved always saved” – theory.

And when people escape from the wicked ways of the world by learning about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up with sin and become its slave again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the right way to live than to know it and then reject the holy commandments that were given to them. They make these proverbs come true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and “A washed pig returns to the mud.” 2. Peter 2:20-3:1 NLT

For it is impossible to restore to repentance those who were once enlightened — those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come —   and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people to repentance again because they are nailing the Son of God to the cross again by rejecting him, holding him up to public shame. Hebrews 6:4-6 NLT

How believers will go to Heaven
This is how the true believers, including those who already passed away, will go to heaven, in what is also called “the rapture”:

And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.

I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.
1. Thessalonians 4:13-18 NLT

It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die. 1. Corinthians 15:52-53 NLT

Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. So be prepared, because you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:40-42 NLT

The sign of Jesus’ coming and the end of the world
Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will lead many astray. And wars will break out near and far, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won’t follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. 

Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will lead many people astray. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come.
Matthew 24:4-14 NLT

Then comes this beautiful future for those who are saved through Jesus Christ, as He says:

Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there. John 14:1-4 NLT

Copyright©2008 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan